A Mermaid Girl

Viking. Jun. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593327609.
PreS-Gr 3–This joyful book celebrates the pleasures of swimming for hours in the summer with friends, but even more importantly it will introduce many children to the word “burkini,” the type of swimwear used by many Muslim women and girls. The story begins with Heba modeling her brand-new, bright yellow burkini for her mother. Together, they anticipate a wonderful day at the pool where Heba will “shimmer and glisten” in her new swimsuit. Upon arriving at the public pool, where a diverse group of children and their parents are splashing and swimming, Heba is met with doubt about her attire by her friends. Suddenly, Heba is overwhelmed with doubt and believes she doesn’t fit in. Her mother helps her to find the courage to embrace her differences and her heritage. After Heba leaps off the diving board, her friends realize she can do in her burkini whatever they can do in the pool, from racing to dancing to diving. Before long, the three friends have entered the realm of imaginative play underwater, where the slanting rays of the summer sun transform each of them into “twinkling” mermaids. Aserr’s digital illustrations are bright and cheerful, capturing the pleasures as well as the concerns of the special day.
VERDICT A wonderful summer book that raises cultural awareness while celebrating simple joys of a day at the pool.

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